Belgrade, January 25, 2012
SERBIA - EU
JEREMIC: EU THINKS THAT PROGRESS IS POSSIBLE
BRUSSELS, Jan. 24 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said in Brussels on Jan. 24 that his talks with senior EU officials had revealed that the EU thinks that progress in the Belgrade Pristina dialog, as the gateway to approving Serbia's bid for candidacy, is possible.
Jeremic said that "all of the EU's members have the best possible will" to see the next step happen, and that, there is "a much better understanding of how this step can be made."
When asked whether Pristina's regional representation was a key condition for greenlighting Serbia's EU candidacy, Jeremic responded that this "is one of the things that we need to work on to see if progress can actually be achieved."
Jeremic said that a large part of the EU ministerial meeting on Jan. 23 was devoted to Serbia and that officials generally trusted that an agreement was possible. "I think that we will invest every possible effort in fulfilling every one of the existing criterions over the next few days."
JEREMIC CONFERS WITH FINI IN ROME
BELGRADE, ROME, Jan. 25 (Tanjug) - Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic conferred with President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies Gianfranco Fini at the start of his visit to Rome on Wednesday.
Jeremic and Fini are expected to discuss bilateral relations and Serbia's further steps on the EU pathway. The Serbian minister will later on Wednesday meet with his Italian counterpart Giulio Terzi di Sant' Agata.
Italy strongly supports Serbia's European integration process and the Italian foreign minister recently stated that Serbia needs to join the EU as soon as possible, and that it would be unfair and inadequate to condition Serbia's further progress towards the EU by recognition of Kosovo's unilaterally declared independence.
On this occasion, the Italian minister said that Serbia is a country which respects European conditions, as it demonstrated by extradition of war crimes suspects and Belgrade's active role in the dialogue with Pristina.
FRATTINI: IN EU'S INTEREST THAT SERBIA JOINS UNION
ROME, Jan. 24 (Tanjug) - Franco Frattini, until recently Foreign Minister of Italy, expressed hope that Serbia will be granted the EU candidate status, and added that Germany would be wrong if it insisted on the blockage of Serbia's progress in the process of European integration because of the situation in Kosovo.
Germany should realize that it is in EU's interest, and therefore in its own interest as well, that Serbia joins the Union, Frattini said.
Serbia should, on its part, be absolutely open for negotiations with Pristina, continue to implement the legislation in keeping with European standards and carry out the reforms necessary for adapting to the EU market and legislation, he said in an interview for Nedeljnik.
I believe that Serbian President Boris Tadic has showed very clearly that he is following this path, and Europe should respond positively, he said.
Speaking about the president's fourpoint plan for Kosovo, Frattini said that the plan is a good starting point and that it would be good for the two parties to agree on the topics for the talks.
Negotiations cannot be conducted with 'take it or leave it' stances. Talks are the key and have to be kept alive until a solution is found, he believes.
When asked whether a potential change of government in Belgrade could affect further integration of Serbia, he said that Italy's principle is not to interfere in other countries' internal issues. So, whoever wins the elections, we will confer with them. President Tadic demonstrated in action that he is a proEuropean politician, and the others have to prove that by concrete actions, the same as he did and is still doing, he added.
When it comes to visa liberalization, Frattini pointed out that Italy will not allow that visas be imposed on the Serbian citizens again. In case this happened, and I personally believe it will not, Italy would not support such a decision, and it would oppose to it and cast a veto with the help of other countries who think the same, he concluded.
FUELE: DIALOG KEY TO APPROVING CANDIDACY
BRUSSELS, Jan. 24 (Beta) - The EU expects the Belgrade Pristina dialog to produce tangible results especially concerning Kosovo's regional representation, which will enable the EU to grant Serbia's request for candidacy, European commissioner Stefan Fuele said on Jan. 24.
After a meeting with Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic, Fuele said that the talks focused on "recent steps in applying agreements reached in the dialog and other steps that will enable the true implementation of all of the agreements."
If enough timely progress is made in the dialog, especially concerning Pristina's regional representation and the implementation of existing agreements, then this will it make it possible for the EU Council to confirm Serbia's request to be granted the status of a candidate at its next session.
Fuele said that he had gone over the present situation in Serbia with Jeremic and stressed that he had acknowledged the Serbian leadership's dedication to the European integration process.
BILDT: BELGRADEPRISTINA DIALOGUE NEEDS PROGRESS
BELGRADE, Jan, 25 (Tanjug) - Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said Serbia has a chance of getting EU candidate status in March if there is good will for progress in the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina.
It is vital that both sides demonstrate a constructive approach. The agreements reached so far should be implemented. This is very important. We also expect to have new agreements and to move forward, Bildt told Vecernje novosti, a Belgrade daily.
He underlined that now it is important to focus on the dialogue, and that the two sides show sincere willingness for compromise on all issues raised in December.
MICUNOVIC: CoE REPORT ON SERBIA FAVORABLE
BELGRADE, Jan. 24 (Beta) - Serbian Council of Europe parliamentary delegation chief Dragoljub Micunovic has said that a report on Serbia that will be reviewed by delegates in the CoE's Parliamentary Assembly in Strasburg on Jan. 25, is "very favorable for Serbia" in terms of its content, but that what was surprising was that the report still referred to Serbia as being in the monitoring process.
"The report is very favorable contentwise, only we do not know why the authors did not recommend cancelling the monitoring status [for Serbia] and giving it a postmonitoring status", Micunovic told BETA.
Micunovic also stressed that the report showed that the Serbian authorities had undertaken the required reforms.
Serbian MPs do not intend to propose amendments to a draft resolution "on honoring the obligations and duties of Serbia" at the Jan. 25 session where they intend to pose the question of "evening out" the criteria for transferring the country from its present monitoring status to the postmonitoring status phase.
SERBIA - K&M - DIALOG
COOPER MEETS WITH STEFANOVIC
BRUSSELS, Jan. 25 (Tanjug) - EU mediator in the Belgrade Pristina dialogue Robert Cooper met with head of Belgrade's negotiating team Borislav Stefanovic on Wednesday.
Cooper is paying a visit to Belgrade on Wednesday, and, according to announcements from Brussels, he also should visit Pristina on Thursday.
The British diplomat came with the aim to encourage the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and find a solution to the regional presentation of the latter.
The continuation of the Belgrade Pristina dialogue and the search for a solution to the issue of Kosovo's regional presentation constitute a condition for Serbia's further progress on its EU path, i.e. for Brussels' positive decision on the country's EU candidate status, which should be made late February.
STEFANOVIC: RESOLUTION 1244 MUST BE INDICATED
BELGRADE, Jan. 25 (Tanjug) - Chief of the Belgrade team in dialogue with Pristina Borislav Stefanovic stated that an agreement on regional presentation of Kosovo could be reached immediately, if Resolution 1244 is indicated on the board for Pristina's regional presentation.
"We have received proposals that, in the regional presentation of Pristina, it should be noted that Serbia's right to stay committed to Resolution 1244 is respected. As if it was an internal document of ours, and not a document of the United Nations Security Council, which applies to everyone. This is unacceptable," he told the Belgrade daily Vecernje novosti.
Stefanovic also said there is no other way to present Pristina except by indicating Resolution 1244.
"Based on the resolution, Pristina could be presented in international organizations without prejudice to the status. If we gave up the document, we would give a signal to the international community that we are giving up on Kosovo," he pointed out. Stefanovic also said that the dialogue needs patience, since "without the international community, it is unlikely that Pristina will change its tough stance." "They are against the use of Resolution 1244. Our team comes up with different ideas, models and proposals every day. Pristina is not making any proposals, but rather rejects any possibility of agreement and 'Kosovizes' our every offer. They are being encouraged to refuse Resolution 1244, because it symbolically and fundamentally reminds them they are not independent," Stefanovic concluded.
TAHIRI: NEW ROUND DEPENDS ON CONVERGENCE OF VIEWS
PRISTINA, Jan. 25 (Tanjug) - A new round of talks between Pristina and Belgrade depends on convergence of the two parties' positions regarding Kosovo's regional representation, Head of Pristina negotiating team in the talks with Belgrade Edita Tahiri has stated.
Tahiri said in an interview for Radio Kosovo that Kosovo's name will appear at regional forums with a footnote reading that Kosovo is recognized by the majority of regional states. According to her, the footnote will reflect reality and be similar to the Macedonian model today.
She said that the current visit by EU mediator to the Belgrade Pristina dialogue Robert Cooper is shuttle diplomacy aimed at convergence of positions.
The dialogue should continue, but now I cannot say when. However, I can say that once the views regarding the agreement on regional cooperation are converged, the next round of the dialogue will take place. Tahiri qualified Serbian President Boris Tadic's fourpoint plan for Kosovo as endless imagination, excluding any possibility of north Kosovo's involvement in political talks.
FUELE: PROGRESS IN DIALOG WITH PRISTINA IS VITAL
BELGRADE, Jan. 25 (Tanjug) - EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fuele has said that in was vital for the dialog between Belgrade and Pristina to define the participation of Kosovo at regional forums, implement the agreements reached so far and enable EULEX to fulfill its mandate in the whole of Kosovo.
The talks on regional representation of Pristina have gone a long way and we believe a compromise solution can be reached, Fuele said for Blic, a Belgrade based daily. We need a practical solution that will be good for both sides, he added.
Asked whether Serbia was expected to abolish its "parallel institutions" by March 1 and if such a demand was "hidden" in the formulation that KFOR and EULEX should be enabled to fulfill their mandates, Fuele dismissed such possibilities. All actors involved understand that the issue is a complex one, which can only be resolved in stages, Fuele pointed out. He said that efforts and statements that Belgrade had been making were aimed at easing the situation on the ground, but added that the roadblocks were hindering the freedom of movement and disabling EULEX to perform its duties in the Kosovo north.
He stressed that northern Kosovo Serbs had the right to promote their interests and express concern over issues, but roadblocks posed a constant risk of escalation of clashes and violence.
The barricades on the roads are a huge unsolved problem and we need to see further progress made in that regard, said Fuele. If enough progress is made in due time, it will make it possible for the European Council to confirm the decision on granting Serbia the EU membership candidate status at the next EU summit, Fuele said.
WALDNER: KOSOVO'S SUPERVISED INDEPENDENCE NEARS END
VIENNA, Jan. 24 (Beta) - The supervised independence of Kosovo is nearing end, State Secretary in the Austrian Foreign Ministry Wolfgang Waldner stated Tuesday after the session of the International Steering Group (ISG) for Kosovo.
Austria has always been a reliable support and firm partner of the Ahtisaari Plan, ISG and the independent Kosovo as of 2008, Waldner assessed, who took part in the ISG meeting in place of Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger. According to Waldner, this shows that the international community is ready to finalize it supervision mission, if the imposed conditions are met.
At the same time, this is a signal for the region and should be an encouragement for constructive cooperation, Waldner stated. He pointed to the measures and reform steps that the Kosovo government needs to take by the finalization of the International Civilian Office (ICO) mandate, particularly in a sustainable enforcement of rights and interests of the Serbian minority.
Waldner added that he conferred with Kosovo Foreign Minister Enver Hodzaj on the sidelines of the session. The process of normalization of relations with Serbia is advancing regardless of all problems, and Kosovo is now getting closer to the EU one step at a time. Austria will keep supporting the Kosovo government in its reform efforts, as well as on its European pathway, Waldner stated.
JEREMIC CONFIRMS NOMINATION FOR U.N. GENERAL ASSEMBLY
BRUSSELS, Jan. 24 (Beta) - Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic confirmed the information that Serbia had nominated him to be the chairman of the 67th Session of the U.N. General Assembly.
Jeremic told reporters in Brussels that "in previous years, Serbia has conducted a very active and multidimensional foreign policy, which was open towards the entire world" and that Serbia enjoys a certain reputation in the international community, although not everyone agrees with its stands.
The Serbian minister said that his nomination was not a matter of daily politics.
"This is a long and complex process and there is not much room for it to take place before the eyes of the public. There is much diplomatic work there, which must be conducted where it is supposed to, in diplomatic circles," Jeremic explained.
PROTEST TO SERBIAN AMBASSADOR OVER ATTACK ON FANS
ZAGREB, Jan. 25 (Tanjug) - The Croatian Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs Wednesday sent a protest to the Ambassador of Serbia in Zagreb Stanimir Vukicevic concerning yesterday's attacks in the Serbian city of Novi Sad and the town of Ruma on vehicles owned by Croatian sports fans, during which some of the Croatian citizens were injured.
The ministry said in a release that Ambassador Vukicevic had expressed regret about the incident and informed Croatia's authorities that relevant services in Serbia had already arrested six attackers.
The ambassador said that the investigation is underway and that relevant Croatian bodies would be timely informed about the results.
Both Croatian and Serbian officials agreed that such incidents did not contribute to strengthening bilateral relations. Croatia demanded that Serbia increase the number of members of security services during the handball matches over the current week, as the number of Croatian fans was excepted to increase, the release said.
Following Tuesday's match between Croatia and France at the 2012 EHF European Men's Handball Championship, a number of Croatian fans were attacked in Novi Sad and Ruma.
SERBIA – ECONOMY, FINANCE
EBRD REDUCES GROWTH PREDICTION FOR SERBIA
BELGRADE, Jan. 24 (Beta) - The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has reduced Serbia's projected economic growth for 2012 by one percentage point, to 1.1 percent.
The predicted economic growth for Serbia in October 2011 was 2.1 percent, but has been reduced to 1.1.
The EBRD estimated that the Serbian economy is stabilizing but that growth is still low. Economic growth was projected to around two percent in 2011, but will probably be lower in 2012, while inflation at the end of 2011 dropped to seven percent.
Preelection spending could contribute to economic growth in the short term, but the main risks remain, mostly because of exposure to the euro zone, but also because inflation is still above the level registered in the countries of the region.
The continued support of the International Monetary Fund will secure important protection against risk for Serbia, the EBRD has concluded.
SERBIAN GOVERNMENT CONCERN FOR U.S. STEEL SERBIA
BELGRADE, Jan. 24 (Beta) - For the possible reacquisition of U.S. Steel Serbia, the Serbian government will not raise additional loans. Instead, the money will be secured through the redistribution of the budget, Serbian Deputy Prime Minister Verica Kalanovic stated on Jan. 24.
She told reporters that the government would form a working group for U.S. Steel Serbia, which will create an action plan for the steelworks, in accordance with the decision the owner in Pittsburgh makes on Jan. 31.
"Such a large system, which affects the entire economy of a country, must not be left to its own devices and the state must back it and secure its normal functioning so as not to jeopardize those who rely on this company," the deputy prime minister said.
SERBIA RECEIVES SECOND INSTALLMENT OF APEX LOAN FROM EIB
BELGRADE, Jan. 24 (Beta) - Serbia has received the second installment of the fourth APEX loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB), for small and medium enterprises and companies with medium market capitalization, in the amount of EUR100 million, stated the National Bank of Serbia.
The financial contract regulating the second installment of the fourth APEX loan from the EIB, worth a total of EUR250 million, was signed on Jan. 24 by the EIB as the provider of the loan, Serbia as the user of the loan, and the National Bank of Serbia as the agent.
The loan will provide additional funding, under favorable conditions, for financing economic development and crediting small and medium enterprises, and companies with medium market capitalization (between 250 and 3,000 employees).
The National Bank of Serbia estimated that these credits will contribute to economic growth in conditions of financial crisis and to creating more jobs in Serbia, and that the new installment will finance exportoriented companies, the automobile industry, the media and priority projects.